The Truth About S-CHIP
Well, last week the House was 24 votes from being able to override the president’s veto. Yesterday, they fell just 13 votes short. 44 House Republicans voted for the override. 157 Republicans and 2 Democrats supported Bush and voted against the health and welfare of children. See how your Rep. voted here and thank them if they voted for the S-CHIP expansion. If they voted against it, call them and urge them change their minds when this next comes up for a vote (which will be soon). To sustain this veto, the Republicans and the rightwing press and bloggers carried out a propaganda disinformation campaign. They included the following false claims:
- That the S-CHIP program was originally to help poor children and was now being expanded to families who didn’t deserve to be on it. FALSE. The poor are covered by Medicaid. S-CHIP, which was largely the work of Republicans during the Clinton administration, was ALWAYS designed for working families–up to 250% of the poverty line–who either could not afford private health insurance or who, because of “pre-existing medical conditions” cannot get insurance at any cost.
- That the vetoed S-CHIP bill expanded coverage even to those with family incomes of $85 K per year. FALSE. That figure was from New York state which attempted to get a waiver for such a family. The waiver was denied. The S-CHIP legislation, including its expansion, insists that total family income be less that $50 K per year, no matter pre-existing conditions or cost of living, etc.
- That the S-CHIP bill would give health care to illegal immigrants. FALSE. It is because this bill EXCLUDES undocumented immigrants that the usually liberal Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) voted against it. (I disagree with Kucinich here, btw.) Kucinich was persuaded to change his vote to, “yea” this time around, I am glad to say.
- That S-CHIP expansion is a step toward “socialized medicine.” No, socialized medicine is what the President, VP, Cabinet, every member of Congress and the Supreme Court all enjoy. S-CHIP worked with a minimum of bureacracy, was adapted by each state locally, used private health insurance carriers (purchased by the states). It focused on prevention and saved millions by not using emergency rooms as primary care. It was so successful that even though George W. Bush opposed it as Gov. of Texas (and had to be overridden), he later came to praise its success.
I won’t re-hash all the lies told about S-CHIP recipient Graeme Frost and his family–all of which have been shown to be false. But here are some other truths about S-CHIP which Republicans will have to grasp very soon:
- According to a poll commissioned by CBS News, 81% of Americans back S-CHIP and its expansion.
- 74% of Americans would favor it even if it meant higher taxes! If the question had mentioned that S-CHIP would be financed by tobacco taxes, that percentage would be even higher.
- Only 22% of Americans approve of Bush’s handling of health care at all. That’s even lower than the 26% who approve of his handling of Iraq!
- According to an ABC-Washington Post poll, only 26% of Americans trust Republicans more than Democrats to solve health care problems–lower than those who trust Republicans more on Iraq (34%), on fighting terrorism (40%), on the economy (33%), or on lowering the federal budget deficit (29%). Those numbers suggest that Republicans up for reelection had better have evidence that they are not “typical Republicans” or not “copies of Bush” if they hope to retain their jobs. Voting against health care for children is NOT the way to produce such evidence.
With those kinds of numbers, it is certain that an S-CHIP expansion will pass. Healthcare has now become the 2nd biggest issue of the 2008 campaign, right after Iraq. If this doesn’t pass before the end of the year, it will become an issue in every election of 2008. The Bush veto of S-CHIP could be the nail in the political coffins of many GOP political careers. Emergency legislation funding the program at current levels will keep the program going until mid-November. Expect another showdown over this bill before the emergency funding expires.
Unsolicited advice to Congressional Republicans: Vote for this bill if you want to continue in your current job. Bush doesn’t care about you. He will be out of office in January ’09 regardless. But if you continue to uphold his position, you will be joining him in looking for new opportunities in the private sector. And while you are breaking with the president to help children, you might want to vote to restore Habeas Corpus for everyone, end torture, and end domestic spying. Are you sure you want to hitch your political future to the coattails of a president with lower approval ratings than Nixon had during Watergate?
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